Victor Kgomoeswana is a reputable businessman, as the Executive in Business Development at Pretoria Portland Cement Company (PPC) where his role is to find investments and opportunities for PPC. He has also been presenting a weekly Africa Business Report on Talk Radio 702’s Africa Business Report.
His latest accomplishment is the writing and publication of his first book Africa is Open for Business. The book launch was held on March 26th at Planet Books, I had the privilege of meeting and speaking with the author.
When discussing why he wrote the book Victor passionately explained, “Africa is Open for Business was written to tell the story of the continent, everybody talks about how the future is Africa. About how there are opportunities here but often Africans do not tell the story. That is why I took it upon myself to write this, I have been talking about this on radio every week for the past 11 years and I have received a warm reception and exciting feedback. “
The book itself is a collection of 50 chapters and it is written in anecdotal format, with each chapter being an average of 6 pages. Victor describes the book as “an observer’s account but the observer is also an African tourist. I have collected over the last 10 years those anecdotes and headlines that have kept coming to prove that Africa is open for business. The title almost came naturally because it became a catchphrase that I was using. The book is very short and easy to read.”
The anecdotes are collected from right across the continent from themes such as Mobile Money, the value of communications and banking to name a few. The book is also made up of countries and the things that make them attractive for entrepreneurs and business minds. Victor shared, “the story of Zambia is one such story although it is more of a plea to finalise its mining taxation royalties as it would unlock a lot of value. The book also features countries such a Rwanda, DRC, Uganda, Ghana two chapters on Zimbabwe and more. There is a chapter entitled ‘Nigeria’s Finest’ that profiles the great entrepreneurs of Nigeria, people who have made Nigeria what it is today.”
When describing the structure of the book Victor divulges, “the chapters are about pointing the reader or observer in the direction that Africa is going in the right direction. I am hoping I have added my voice to the story of Africa Rising; the book has been well received in South Africa mainly by business leaders and African enthusiast students. I am hoping it will be well received even outside of South Africa as there is a greater bigger Africa.”
The owner of Planet Books Efi O’Donnell has read the book and shared, “ The book is an easy to read book that you can pick up and put down. It also makes a great gift book because it is written in anecdotal form, stories about different characters, businesses, countries and different slants. “
I asked Victor how long it took to write the book and his response was a bit surprising, “ three months but the story was the story of 10 years in the making, but to sit down and write it took three months. There is a Zambian angle to that because the deadline to finishing the book was January 3rd 2014 and I was coming on holiday to Zambia so on New Years Eve just before midnight and submit to my publisher Pan Macmillan. I wrote the entire book while travelling, on airplanes or airports sometimes in a lounge or restaurant and then again at home. There is not a place I didn’t carry my laptop!”
When asked about what chapters of the book he enjoyed writing the most he answered, “ there are 50 so there can never be just one, they were selected according to how they each affirm and confirm or identify the positive African story. Honestly each story is exciting, but I think the one I had the most fun writing is the one called ‘Check into Hotel Rwanda’ which was the first chapter I wrote. Pan Macmillan told me they understood the concept of the book but they wanted to know how I was going to write it. So I had to go home and write two chapters and one of them was ‘Check into Hotel Rwanda’.
I also had fun writing about Lake Victoria funnily enough because its one of those things where you see the potential of the economy and what could come out of there.
There were depressing chapters that I wrote for example the one about the Marange diamonds in Zimbabwe because that is a story that could have turned the fortunes of Zimbabwe if it had been handled in a responsible way. Millions of dollars that could have built that economy, but I had to write about it because although the book is saying ‘Africa is open for business’ it could not be a denial.
At the end of the book there is an annex called ‘Think, Talk and Walk African’ which summarises 10 points which I believe are a guide to anybody who wants to do business on the continent, anybody who wants to get it right. The thinking that must go into it and how you must conduct yourself and change the way you think and behave.”
Make sure you get yourself a copy of Africa is Open for Business !